The Ambassador in France (Herrick) to the Secretary of State

No. 8491

Sir: With reference to my despatch No. 8460 of March 22,59 the Department’s telegraphic instruction No. 89 of March 24, 1928, and previous correspondence concerning the difficulties encountered by American film interests, I have the honor to report that in compliance with the said instruction the Commercial Attaché informed M. Herriot of Mr. Hays’ impending arrival. Mr. MacLean referred to the publication in the Matin and in trade papers of what purported to be the Film Commission’s regulations, and asked M. Herriot specifically whether or not these regulations were approved by him and whether they would be promulgated by decree or validated in some other manner. Although M. Herriot did not return a direct answer, he implied that the decree creating this Film Commission (see despatch No. 8356 of February 20, 192859) gave the Commission full power to make regulations for its own governance with respect to the issuing of film visas; consequently, these regulations did not require his approbation to be effective, and much less a governmental decree. Whether because of his realization of the unsatisfactory nature of this reply or not, M. Herriot then sought to emphasize the point that if the Film Commission could adopt regulations in this manner without further formality, it could equally readily and simply modify the same.

Incidentally, M. Herriot took occasion to ask Mr. MacLean if a seven to one quota would really bear too hardly on American film interests (see Department’s telegraphic instruction No. 74 of March 15). In this connection, it may be stated that, although the general expectation is that if the present regulations should stand, the quota would be four to one rather than seven to one, no action of the Film Commission with respect to visas has yet substantiated this belief.

In other words, the situation still remains vague and confused, and I am confirmed in my impression that this is deliberately done with a view to seeing just how much the American film interests will put up with.

Mr. Hays called at the Embassy on Saturday morning accompanied by Colonel Lowry. We had a long conference at that time and another one yesterday. They both are in accord with the view that the matter has not yet reached the point where protest to the Foreign Office, of even an informal nature, would be warranted or opportune. Moreover, they agree that before reaching the stage where informal conversations [Page 848] at the Foreign Office—devoid of protest but pointing out the difficulties which will ensue if the present situation is not corrected—may be advisable, the best course will be for Mr. Hays to see M. Herriot, and in a very frank and open talk point out to him, more clearly than he has probably yet realized, just what the result will be to French as well as to American film interests if the present course is persisted in. As M. Herriot is away over the Easter holidays, this cannot take place until next week, when I will report further.

In the meantime, Mr. Hays has been active in seeing the necessary people in the cinematographic world, and it may be hoped that when the Film Commission holds its next meeting tomorrow afternoon it will take no action which will render it more difficult to recede from the tentative position it has so far adopted.

I have [etc.]

For the Ambassador:
George A. Gordon

First Secretary of Embassy
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